From the archive: Just so you know, this article is more than 3 years old.
The accident happened at the premises of Groveport Logistics at Gunness near Scunthorpe, an inland port on the River Trent, to which R Martinson provides labourers and vehicle operators.
One of Martinson's HGV tipper trucks was no longer useable and the company assigned its transport manager, George Johnson, and his co-worker and qualified telehandler operator, Samuel Binns, to dismantle the vehicle for scrap.
The work started on 10 April 2014, when the two men dismantled the lorry's cab unit, tipper container and lifting mechanism. On 14 April, work resumed to remove one of two 44 kg metal rails on which the tipper container sat.
The rail was rusted to the chassis. Binns moved the forks of the Manitou telehandler -- similar to a rough terrain forklift truck but with the lifting forks on the end of a telescopic arm -- between the chassis and the rail to try to prise it off. He applied too much pressure and the metal rail flew off the HGV's chassis and struck Johnson, 68, who was standing next to the vehicle.
"Dismantling the HGV required a proper risk assessment and method statement for the two employees to follow," HSE inspector David Welsh told IOSH Magazine. "Instead, they were left to get on with [it] on their own. Using a telehandler like a mobile crane to lift and move parts is a high-risk activity."
The HSE said in court that, though it was possible to use the telehandler in an unconventional way such as this, the workers would have required extra training and instruction under competent supervision.
Johnson has been left with severe head injuries and he relies on his family for care.
At Scunthorpe Magistrates' Court, R Martinson pleaded guilty to breaching s 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act for failing to provide a system of work for breaking down the HGV safely.
In his sentencing notes, District Judge Daniel Curtis said: "[R Martinson] had in place health and safety measures and procedures for its normal activities and has an unblemished record. This was an unusual activity to dismantle a HGV, with hindsight an operation that should have been outsourced."
Under the new sentencing guidelines, he determined that the company was highly culpable: "I cannot ignore the fact that these two men were operating in an isolated site over a two-day period; this was a serious failure within the company to address the risks of health and safety. This was in effect unplanned misadventure."
Judge Curtis determined that the seriousness of harm risked was Level A and that the likelihood of harm occurring had been high. The starting point for the fine, before adjustment, was £160,000. Though he had assessed R Martinson's culpability as high, it was "not at the higher end of the scale" and he considered "how a severe financial penalty might impact on the company's future".
He added: "I accept the submission that this was not a deliberate act intended to cut costs but rather an over-reliance on the experience of its own employee.
"I have reduced the starting point to reflect where the company's turnover puts it within this micro-company category and I have adjusted this downwards, reflecting the features identified above."
He decreased the starting point to £80,000, which was reduced by one-third because of R Martinson's early guilty plea. The company must pay £53,300 in addition to costs of £1,293.
Welsh said the company promised it would not attempt to dismantle another HGV. "It was a one-off activity," he said. "They've given a commitment not to do this again and that's the best they can do. It's not their usual business activity and they tried to do something that they weren't competent to plan, organise and supervise."
Thorn Warehousing employee Paul Williamson, 51, died on 29 January 2014 when a remote controlled mobile elevated working platform (MEWP) he was loading on to a truck fell from the ramps. The gradient of the ramps was above the manufacturer’s specification and they were not secured to the lorry. As the MEWP – a Spider 1800 – was loaded on to the truck it toppled off them and on to Williamson.
A panel on the sectional vertical door at ESP’s premises in Malvern, Worcestershire, was broken and the company’s manager asked the worker and his colleague to check it. There was a spare panel in the factory and they decided to replace the faulty one on 5 May 2015. The panel sections of the door were connected by hinges. On the side of each section was a bracket with a roller that ran inside the vertical track in the door frame. The 150 kg door was held in position by two cables that connected the bottom panel to a pair of springs near the ceiling.
A Presbar employee was removing metal build-up from the diecasting machine on 7 July 2015. This required him to stand in the middle of the machine, between the furnace pot and the front bar. The machine’s robot arm was holding a ladle filled with 400°C molten metal. It moved, trapping the worker. He had a cardiac arrest and sustained fourth degree burns.
The HSE launched an investigation on 27 July after it carried out an unannounced inspection of J G Hale Construction’s site in the town of Blaenavon. It found the company did not properly plan and manage its site and there were no control measures in place to prevent a fire starting and spreading.
Bristol Crown Court heard that the Concrete Fabrications employee, who wants to remain anonymous, was adjusting tension rods to rectify the misaligned conveyor. The bars were inside the machine’s guard, close to the conveyor belt and rotating tail pulley. Aggregate had built up on the tension rods and he attempted to knock it off with a hammer, but it was caught by the rotating machinery. The worker’s arm was dragged in and severed between the shoulder and elbow.
The 46-year-old Knowsley Engineering Services employee and a colleague were using a forklift truck to manoeuvre the structure out of the company’s premises in Skelmersdale, Lancashire. As it was raised above the supporting trestle it began to twist and swung into the cab of the forklift, striking the worker who sustained a broken arm and serious flesh wounds.